The Supply Chain: Robots Shouldn’t Replace People


Supply Chain Dive writer Craig Guillot recently released an article on why the supply chain should never consist of robots and artificial intelligence (AI) alone.  Here is what Guillot had to say in his article:

A lot of big companies, such as Walmart, are testing the waters when it comes to using robots and AI in their supply chains.  The general thought on automated technology is that it will be good for business: it is efficient and mostly cost effective. The robots can also perform more reliably and consistently in some cases.  However, there are a variety of reasons why the supply chain should never move to be fully automated.

One reason to keep people working the supply chain is because of the simply and yet vast limitation of robots and AI.  For example, robots cannot use stairs, nor do they possess the level of creativity needed to immediately compensate for unexpected mistakes on the supply chain.  Yes, robots are helpful and cost effective when they are simple and the tasks they must perform are easy, but the article mentions that there is a major cost increase when a robot with an arm must be purchased.  Another reason to keep people around and running things is because of human relationships and empathy. Much of business relies upon the bonds formed through negotiations and successfully carried out contracts. Robots do not know about budding relationships between companies, nor ones that necessitate salvaging.

Even in the modern era of technology and all of the advancements on the horizon, sometimes too much is not a good thing.  Human beings are a necessary component in the supply chain and transportation world. At the end of the day, at least we are not confined to thinking by a set level of programming.  

Read the full article for more information: